ABOVE: SOPHIE TURNER IN LONDON, FEBRUARY 2013. DRESS CAPE: VALENTINO HAUTE COUTURE. COSMETICS: LA MER, INCLUDING THE POWDER IN CRÉME. STYLING: NANCY ROHDE. HAIR: CHI WONG/ JULIAN WATSON AGENCY. MAKEUP: ARIEL YEH. SPECIAL THANKS: PROVISION STUDIOS.
Until recently, British actress Sophie Turner had two distinct lives: one as a high school student in her hometown of Warwick, in central England; and another as an up-and-coming Medieval-fantasy heroine. For the first two seasons of HBO's Game of Thrones, Turner split her time between donning period costumes under the Croatian and Irish suns on the set of the popular drama, and a typical class schedule of math and English. "I found it really difficult when teachers talked down to me," the 17-year-old Turner admits. "I thought to myself, Shouldn't we be having an interesting conversation here?" In preparation for the show's third season, which begins airing this Sunday, Turner hired a private tutor so she could focus her energies on playing Sansa, the flame-haired eldest daughter of House Stark. Turner has already guided her character through murder, treachery, betrayal, and one graphic scene of attempted rape by an angry mob. At the start of this season, the headstrong Sansa remains imprisoned by King Joffrey, ruler of the Westeros kingdom. "Some actors have to do a lot of research, but when it comes to the crying scenes, in particular when Sansa was subjected to watching the beheading of Ned [her character's father], I just wing it," she says. Later this year, Turner will take on the lead role in Isabel Coixet's psychological drama Panda Eyes, a "part creepy, part heart-wrenching" thriller in which an ordinary teen girl starts to believe she's being pursued by her double. Once again, Turner relied on her instincts. "I had to get into my own head and heart and imagine it onscreen, otherwise I would have felt a bit stupid running down a tunnel screaming in front of 30 people on set," she says. For now, she seems unfazed by her rapid trajectory. "I will be able to look back on my teen years as spent on a television set just having the biggest bunch of fun," she says. "At the moment, I can still treat acting as my very favorite hobby since I don't have a mortgage to pay!"